A long time ago… May of 2012 (to be exact) and I was wandering around Motor City Comic Con in Detroit. I was amazed at the crowds and ambiance of the whole convention experience. My friend said to me, “This is nothing compared to Dragon Con.”
I asked, “What was Dragon Con?”
|Sand people drive down I-75|
single-file, to hide
Flash forward to May 2013: I’m now a member of the Rebel Legion, and while perusing the Great Lakes Base forum when I came across a post by a fellow GLB member -- looking for a ride to Dragon Con. The Star Wars gods were speaking to me and presented my opportunity. I replied as fast as I could, offering to drive down and share the driving costs; and the deal was struck. Ironically, this guy has a great Chewbacca costume -- who else can say they drove to Dragon Con with Chewbacca as their co-pilot?
We left in the early morning hours on Thursday and met up with a few other friends from Great Lakes Base, as well as some local Great Lakes Garrison guys. One “hyperspace” jump down I-75 later, we arrived in Atlanta around noon. By then the crowds were already gathering. I was speechless, but that pales in comparison to what was to come.
Friday marked the first day of the Con, and I agreed to help with the Star Wars costume panel that morning. I got dressed as my Tusken Raider, in the parking lot – since the only hotels left available were outside of town. Take my advice: plan early if you intend on going to this con! As we walked over to the hotel where the panel was being hosted, we kept being stopped for pictures along the way. Eventually, we arrived at the designated conference room and had a few people asking great questions about costuming and getting involved in the Rebel Legion and 501st. After the panel was over, I went wandering; all the more amazed at the sights and sounds I was experiencing.
Suddenly, I came across a sign that read: “Give Blood, get a Free T-Shirt!” Free is always good, and seeing I never gave blood before, the Star Wars gods were again directing me. Donating blood to Life South felt like a good thing to do, so I gladly volunteered. One of the blood drive staff members took my information, interviewed me, and then hooked me up. They had three huge rooms, filled with volunteers donating blood, and there was no shortage of people donating throughout the weekend. When I asked my wife to shoot a picture, she told me to put my mask on… I did and she shot the picture. The nurse drawing my blood quickly grabbed her camera and shot a picture as well.
|I felt like a celebrity!|
Saturday came and I wanted to do the parade. I decided to go as a Jedi, since The Knights of the Jedi Order detachment wanted to do a group picture – and because my Tusken was a little too warm for marching in Georgia’s idea of summer. The Rebel Legion and 501st were last in line -- save the best for last right? The parade was only about a mile but it seemed like 20 miles with that Georgia heat! I was not prepared to see all the people lined up along the parade route. It was like a 4th of July parade! Once we came into view, the cheers rose up for the Rebel Legion and 501st. Kids were jumping up and down, adults were clapping and cheering, we were the hit of the parade. I really didn’t want it to end, even though I was hot, sweaty and thirsty.
|Return of the (Michigan) Jedi|
Saturday night saw us at the joint Rebel Legion/501st Mixer. The after-hours party was well attended and everyone seemed to have a fun time. It was great to network with the fellow members from around the country. Even ran into Yaya Han (from “Heroes of Cosplay”) while waiting for the elevator; my first celebrity at Dragon Con sighting.
Sunday was a lazy day and was spent walking around seeing what we missed the past days; we were leaving first thing Monday morning. I never went to any of the tracks and really never noticed that I missed them. I had a schedule planned to hit some of the Star Wars and paranormal tracks, but alas -- I was distracted by the shiny costumes and energetic atmosphere. The amount of time and sweat that went into these costumes is mind-boggling. The love of the craft truly showed at Dragon Con.
This was my first Dragon Con, but not my last. I’m already making plans to go next year (and hopefully hit some of the tracks). My friend was right: Dragon Con was magical!